|"It's not the heat, it's the stupidity."|
- Jay J. Dunn
[Photo Gianina Lindsey]
"The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it." - Thucydides
New Gloucester, MAINE -- I have a handful of "A" races on my schedule. These are my favorite events for both the challenge and the community. The Pineland Farms 25k in New Gloucester, ME, hosted by Trail Monster Running, is at the top of that list. The 2011 version would be my fifth consecutive start and would mark a highpoint for acidotic RACING. The 16 aR athletes that made the trip to RACE acidotic was by far our largest turnout at the event. I rode up with teammates Rich Lavers, Timmy Lindsey, and Jay Myers. All three would be racing the 25k version of the event for the first time and I attempted to share my knowledge of the course. The race essentially breaks down into five 5k's. The first 5k is downhill and fast, the 2nd 5k regains the lost elevation and is sneaky hard, the 3rd 5k is a rolling recovery, the 4th 5k is a roller coaster, and the 5th 5k is always short but includes a few tougher climbs and an open field to the finish. Reviewing my performance (and collapse) from last year I formulated the following 5k split plan to PR; :22, :48, 1:07, 1:30, 2:53. At the start I once again seeded myself incorrectly and had to dodge and weave for the first few hundred meters to get up to pace and find some clean running lanes. Rich and Dan Dion ran with me for the first 5k and we hit the first split a little fast at 21:45. By this time the 300+ runners had gotten single file and the wide nordic trails made running the tangents very easy. Just before the 10k mark Rich fell back a bit correctly deciding to run his own race. Dan stuck with me aswe hit the 10k split a full 2 MINUTES up at :46 (24:23). Knowing that we had just run one of the toughest 5k's on the course a little faster than planned I felt very confident that we had banked some precious time and that a PR was well within reach. Then it happened. In a bit of ominous self-fulfilling prophecy I utter the phase to Dan, "Just relax.". I've had 24 hours to mull it over and I'm still not sure exactly what happened but I must have "relaxed" a little too much. Feeling great and very in control I actually caught and passed the very talented and tough John Agosto of the Shenipsit Striders. But when I looked at my watch at the 15k mark I almost couldn't believe it...1:11 (25:27). I had not only squandered the two minute bank, but I had put myself now 4 minutes in the hole! The 5k split tells the story. I was a full :60 slower than the 2nd (harder) 5k. With a painful knowledge of the last 10k of the race I quickly surmised that attempting to make up 4 minutes on the 'other side of the road' was both foolhardy and selfish. The final 5k of this event has bared witness to some of my most epic physical collapses. I made up my mind that I would not add to that archive today. We had, after all, a team title to contend for and I was at the moment our 3rd place runner (behind Phil Erwin and my mentor Steve Wolfe). Although I clipped off my 20k split (26:31) the objective at that point was to run consistently to the finish. Something a double hamstring uberspasm prevented me from doing in 2010. The last 5k was graciously short and I crossed the finish in 2:01:20 good enough for 22nd overall (15th master). When I reviewed my performances from years past I was actually pretty surprised to learn that although I felt prepared and raced well, the 2:01:20 would be my slowest finish at the event and the 2nd time in 5 tries that I failed to run sub 2:00. But curiously I feel okay with the effort and am very pleased that I didn't have any health issues. After the race I had a chance to enjoy the free BBQ and beers with my great friends and teammates. And although we were 2nd (AGAIN!) in the 25k team competition it was another great event put on by some the best in the business.
NEXT UP: Exeter Trail Races presented by GoLite Footwear